city hall could be considered to be the central point in Bydgoszcz, a
city in the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship. It is 106 kilometers in a
straight line from the farm of Mr. and Mrs. Felski. The population of
Bydgoszcz stood at 354,990 in mid 2016. There are four people in the
Felski family: Andrzej and Katarzyna, their daughter Victoria and her
grandfather Bruno. Together, they make up the entire population of a
small village also called Bydgoszcz, situated in the Pomorskie
Voivodeship. Brno did his military service in Bydgoszcz (nowadays the
eighth largest city in Poland) in 1962. Apart from Bruno, there is
also another link connecting the two Bydgoszczs—the Brda River.
The Rowers’ Club RTW Lotto-Bydgostia was established in 1928. It won the national championship 28 times and in a row for the last 24 years. Since 2000 members of the club regularly have come home from the Olympics with medals, which is due equally to the hard work of the coaches and to the rowers’ determination. The pool, where young rowers improve their technique, was built in the 1950s. The club is lucky with the river: the Brda gets frozen late and melts early. Thanks to these conditions, the rowers can practice on the river almost all year round, from which, in the past, even the national team profited.
Leaving the banks of the Brda by Tuchola and entering the deep forest, one reaches the place of a mass murder. This is where the Nazis executed over 500 Poles in the Fall of 1939. This event is called today „the crime in Rudzki Most”.
You can find a legend on the Internet claiming that Napoleon crossed the Brda with his army near the small town of Drzewicz in 1810. A curious tourist can find a stony plaquette in the place the Emperor presumably rested under a linden. Piotr Lenart, in costume, often takes part in reenactments. His arrival to the campsite in Drzewicz triggered interest in the resting campers. Aleksandra Siatecka, who was one of them, confessed that she made up the whole Napoleon legend with her friends at a party with the help of alcohol. How could she predict that the whole scam would unleash to the effect of visiting buses with French tourists.
Piezometers on the Koronowo Dam check the water level, its temperature, direction, and the speed of filtration. This is how the underground waters around the hydrotechnical buildings are kept under control. The building of the dam had a direct impact on creating the Koronowo Lake. The Brda connected many lakes and their neighborhoods into one, big overflow area. A large basin, craved for by tourists and anglers, has been created, with the width of 1,5 kilometer in the widest spot.
Włodzimierz Niewiadomski has been running survival camps for 30 years. Before then he used to run in forests and was passionate about survival skills. The forest is his passion. He can sense all the changes in it just by observing nature. One of the tasks in his training is crossing the swamp near Zamrzenica. He believes that people fear swamps without reason and this exercise helps overcome this fear. „The swamp is good for health” he assures us and refers to a story about how he cut off the tip of his finger. To the surprise of doctors, the finger grew back after he started hanging out in the swamps.
The tank turret from „Rudy 102” sticks out from the ground by the water lock Okole in Bydgoszcz. It’s the name of a fictional vehicle in which Polish soldiers, featured in a popular TV-show, „Four Troopers and a Dog”, fought in WWII. The film crew came to this place in 1969 to shoot two episodes of the show. The water lock worker Wacław Kowalski helped then with the preparation for filming. He was the best floodgater in the city, winning the competition 20 times in a row. He’s been retired for 18 years now and his wife took over his job.
Carpenter’s Shop in Rytel produces garden furnitures and sculptures on demand. What attracts the customers’ attention is a huge wooden bear in front of the building. Waldek and Rafał hold sheets, an impromptu background for making a picture of the sculpture. It is so heavy that four men would not be able to lift it. Janusz Hilbrecht sculpted the bear in 2015. He is an artist-amateur who could not develop his passion in full. He lost a few fingers on the milling machine and now can’t do details. The sculpting gave way to the furniture business.
The Koronowo Correctional Institution was established in 1819 in lands that belonged to the Cistercian monastery. Its capacity is of up to 900 inmates. On one side the prison borders with the cloister, through which—via an underground passage—12 prisoners fled away 80 years ago. On the other, it has the Brda flowing by. Due to the narrowing of the riverbed—and, as it was explained, for security reasons—the Brda overflows the basement of the prison. Inmates undertake cleaning the riverbed a few times a year and it’s their contribution to the community.
Kazmierz Kamiński created a mockup of a power plant in Samociążek in the 1980s as a volunteer act. The plant worker spent more than 12 months on this project. The mockup is located now in the machine room, attracting numerous visitors. The plant was opened in 1960 and its significance for the region is twofold. It regulates the circulation of electrical power in the regional network and controls the flow of the Brda in order to prevent floods.
Here is the Relaxation Center Leśna Cisza in the town of Babilon, built in 1975 by the Bydgoszcz Transport Authority for its workers. After many rehabs it is now open to all tourists. The visitors like to stroll along the Brda, go canoeing, or rent a water bike. In the middle of the Centre there is a seasonal café called Arizona. The Center offers 20 rental bungalows for visitors.
Sławek Piotrowski invented the Great Bottle Race on the Brda 8 years ago and has kept organizing it since. During this time his team managed to acquire the necessary skills of building boats from bottles. The problem is not the displacement of water, but the stability of their construction. Sławek laughs that they applied an „outerspace technology” this year. They have been building their rocket for weeks, mostly in their spare time. The method proves right. They did not drown and finished in 10th place.
A small manor house, the Wymysłowo, is located in a forest near Tuchola. It offers lodging, dining, camping, and a pool with a Jacuzzi. There is also found the only European Museum of North American Indians. It treasures a private collection of original Indian artifacts owned by Sat-Okh, the son of Polish Stanisława Supłatowicz and an Indian chief. The main theme of the manor are horses, which appear in paintings and sculptures all over the building. Those at the pool were made by a friend of the house, Jacek Zbroja, who built them with a mix of plaster and glue. The project connects the pool with the horse studs to be found just outside the window.
The Hat Parade is an annual event in which the elders from the so-called Third Age Universities partake. This year they went in a colorful procession across the city and ended up by the river. It is Elżbieta Ruciński’s second time. Along with other elders she’d been designing her hat for two months at the weekly activities for seniors at the Sue Ryder Elders Center. She had to be especially inventive with the clasp, because the hat was supposed to stick to her head for a long period of time. Her first time she wore a colorful spider on her head.
Stanisław believes that there are only three most beautiful things in the world: a galloping horse, a dancing woman, and a ship with full-blown sails. 30 years ago he decided to dedicate all his spare time and passion to model-making in order to build a model of the „Mayflower”. He worked on it after hours for two years. Given that he did not have enough room in his apartment to keep it, he donated it to the rowers’ club by the Brda River.
Once a year, volunteers meet at the Mylof dam to participate in the Winter Rafting of Energy Workers on the Brda. The 50th edition of the event took place in 2016. Participants traversed over 50 kilometers in 3 days. Wojciech Szala is the last segment pilot; he is paddling for the 9th time. Although he’s paddled in a lot of places, the Brda is one of his favorites rivers. At present he prefers solitary trips to organized ones, as they help him to calm down.
A salmon caught by an angler in Brda in 1953 embellishes the premises of the Bydgoszcz Division of the Polish Anglers Association. The river is called by anglers „The Pearl of Pomerania”. Annually the existing pool of fish gets stocked with trout, grayling, and sea trout in those legs of the river classified as mountain waters. The fees for anglers in these areas are higher than in the lowlands. The local press reported that in July 7, 2012 Marek Wilma caught a red piranha in the Brda. The fish, which lives in South America, is considered to be the most dangerous species in the world.
Jerzy Raatz is a captain with a license for using all waterways. He comes from a family of skippers. His grandfather and father worked on the Brda. There are over 50 skippers in Bydgoszcz nowadays. They meet at the barge „Lemara”, which was turned into a skippers’ museum in 2014. Jerzy, in captain’s uniform, offers tours to the visitors and shows how life on the water looked like. In private, his ties with the Brda are equally strong. His love for his wife has flourished on the banks of the Brda and for the recent past he has had a view of the river directly from his house.
The Astoria Pavillion was opened to the public in 1962 and at that time it was the biggest arena in the city of Bydgoszcz. There were practice rooms, game rooms, and indoor and outdoor pools on the premises. Alas, the peak years are gone and, after closing in 2016, the entire arena awaits demolition. There are only small items remaining in the houseman’s room.
The Hospice Care in Bydgoszcz was opened in 2005. It provides services to sick and disabled people who require long-term care. They value the location: the Brda can be seen from the patients’ windows. During occupational therapy they built an origami swan, similar to those swimming right beyond the fence. Patients, like Edward, use the rehabilitation room every day under the supervision of physiotherapists. During World Youth Day the patients welcomed canoeists from Poland, Madagascar, and Brasil, who came there for a joint sacred mass.
The Center of Natural Education in Woziwoda upon the Brda has existed for 20 years. It is primarily devoted to the education of children. Upon entering the main room, stuffed animals jump to the eyes. Most keenly, two deers attract the attention. All exhibits are carcasses found in the nearby forest and treated through taxidermy. Moreover, the material with which the Center was built is local; the wood used in its construction came for the Tuchola Forest.
Jacek Greszta plays Aquarius in a Czech opera by Antonin Dvorak called „Rusalka”. The first performance of this play took place in 2012 in Bydgoszcz at the Opera Nova, a venue located by the Brda River. The director decided to disguise Aquarius as the city’s symbolic character commonly called „A Passer Through the River”. It’s a sculpture of a man balancing on a rope extended over the river. One leg down, he holds a pole in his hands.